ALBANY, NY (WENY)–In 2018, Corrections Officer Anna Vazquez was on duty when an inmate, she said, grabbed and forcibly touched her.
Vazquez is not alone.
Several other officers and corrections facility employees traveled to the Capitol Tuesday, to share their experiences and advocate for legislation they feel will better protect them in their workplace.
“I hear women in the community voicing their opinions about the Me Too movement and I stand here, and I say, where’s my Me Too. Why am I the exception from this movement? Why is it okay for me and my friends my co-workers, my peers, to be harassed and threatened and assaulted on a daily basis. Why is it okay?” said Elizabeth Weir, a Offender Rehabilitation Coordinator at a correctional facility.
Some lawmakers said it’s not okay.
The Senate and the Assembly currently carry legislation that would increase penalties for certain sexual offenses committed against correctional officers.
“Just like as we’re walking through these halls here in Albany, we have protections. These corrections officers deserve the same protections as every other workplace,” said Senator Jessica Scarcella-Spanton (D-23rd Senate District).
Other lawmakers agree.
“There’s no logical reason why sexual assault against a corrections officer is not a felony. There should be more penalties for those individuals who commit that assault,” said Assembly Member Phil Palmesano (R-Corning).
Palmesano added the implementation of the Humane Alternatives to Long-Term Solitary Confinement or the HALT Act, have increased the number of assaults in prisons including sexual assaults.